Self project: Accountability

Recently I began to do a little bit of self evaluation and asked myself: What do I value? The first thing that came to mind was accountability. Saying that “accountability” is one of my values is a lie. It sounds nice but the truth is, rarely have I been held accountable for anything or taken responsibility for that matter.

When I was committing fraud against the state, my father bailed me out so I wouldn’t go to prison. In fact, I have committed fraud numerous times and every time, my father was there to pay all of it so I never had to see inside of a jail. My father is dead now and can’t bail me out anymore.

Every time I aggressed toward another person, “they MADE me mad”. When I stabbed a guy, “He deserved to be stabbed for what he did”. When I ran over people with my car, that was their fault too. When I destroyed property, threw things or screamed like a crazy person, I said it was their fault. They were either stupid, mean, or deserved it in some way. Still no accountability…or taking any responsibility for my often impulsive behaviors.

Then I thought about honesty. LOL Obviously, fraud is dishonest. But sometimes, I just make up things to tell people just to see how they will respond. For example, a coworker recently asked the whereabouts of one of my employees. It had been several weeks since they had been at work. I told the coworker that my employee was on vacation, traveling the world and was currently at the Great Wall of China. The truth was, I had no idea of the whereabouts of my employee. I assumed she had quit.

If you have ever heard of the term “shadow work”, then you know in a nutshell it is the thing that pisses you off the most about other people is the very aspect within yourself that you refuse to recognize. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be pissed off about how THEY behave. I fact check everything because I don’t believe anything anyone tells me. Why? Because I am dishonest a good bit of the time. In any case, now to the list of values I believe I possess. Learning, knowledge, curiosity, privacy, personal autonomy, independence, and solitude. All of these are self explanatory.

I used to try to convince myself and others that I valued accountability, responsibility, and honesty. We can say what we want but our actions speak louder than words and determine our worth.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my ex several years ago. At the time, my ex’s sister was in rehab…by force, not choice. She wasn’t exactly doing well in the program. My ex asked: “How can I help her? I feel so helpless.” I responded, “If you want to help her, be willing to meet her where she is right now, not where you want her to be.”

Pretty good advice for myself right now. I don’t have to be angry with myself anymore because I don’t possess accountability, responsibility or honesty. I no longer have to tell myself that I am worthless because I don’t possess these values. To be clear, this does not mean I will never take accountability for my actions. It means, I must be willing to meet myself where I am right now, not where I think I should be. That instead of fighting against what I hate about myself and beating myself up…and everyone else…I can use that weakness as an opportunity to begin taking accountability. Especially now that I know I have been failing to do these things. As my sponsor in Narcotics Anonymous used to tell me, admitting it is the first step.

-Shadow

Defining self

I am struggling to fully understand what my therapist meant by asking me to consider the question: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?”  Up to this point in my life, I have primarily defined myself by what I was feeling or what I was doing. So my therapist told me it was more than that and I must dig deeper.  So people are not defined by their behavior? This is confusing.

I even attempted to get the answer by looking up the definition of self in a dictionary.  An individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness.   Or even this: a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self.  The definition is just as vague as the term.

My therapist asked me “Who are you when no one is watching?”  I responded “What am I doing when no one is watching?” That is when she told me I must dig deeper.

I don’t understand.  I have often viewed “self” as some external entity that takes over during my worst states.  Kind of like spirit possession. All of my worst traits dwell there; as well as my worst emotions.  They are like a virus that creep in and infect me when I am vulnerable.

I do not know when I came up with the above idea of self.  But my therapist tells me that is not self. Hmmmm. I am totally baffled then.  How is it not a feeling or behavior? Those things I understand…well, I mostly recognize, at least.

In any case, if anyone out there has a different definition understanding of self that you think might be helpful for me, please share it in the comments.  It would be greatly appreciated.

-Shadow